Mechanical disc Vs. V-brake : LUSENET : Mountain Bike Hash Forum : One Thread

I am using V-brakes on my bike and am thinking of upgrading to a mechanical disc(can't afford hydrolic disc!). First of all, I am pretty heavy! 100kg to be precise. I ride 1-2 times a week, the V-brake works pretty well on my bike but I am changing my brake pads minimum twice a month! That is costing me a fortune!

The question would be, are the mechanical disc pads going to give me a longer life spans on the V-brakes? would 1 change of the disc pads cost me more than lets say 6-7 V-brake pads? I have also heard that mechanical disc are not as good as V-brakes, is that true? any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

-- Alex C. Tseung (, May 27, 2003


you have to change your brake pads minimum twice a montH? oh my god. what speeds have you been reaching with your poor mtb? :)

-- Jeffrey (, May 28, 2003.

Actually, it is the total opposite. I don't really dare to go that fast on my bike and i use the brakes alot in descents! i also ride mostly at Kemensah area which is very muddy and has sand in the mud! this is a deadly combination for my brake pads which of course, I have to change often.

-- Alex C. Tseung (, May 28, 2003.

maybe you have been buying some not-so-good-quality brake pads? just a thought

-- Jeffrey (, May 28, 2003.


Although I'm not a disk brake user myself, I'm pretty sure that the disk brake pads ought to last longer than V-brake pads, due to the more hard-wearing material used. It'd be difficult to say exactly how much longer, since it would depend on how much mud you'd get on the rotors etc. It would be safe to say that you can expect to get less mud on the rotors than on the rim surface, hence less abrasion on the pads themselves.

Perhaps before you spend all your $$ on disk brakes, consider getting kool-stop v-brake pads (they're also sold under the Ritchey brand). They last significantly longer than Shimano pads. I once wore through 2 sets of Shimano pads on a single 10-hour muddy off- road ride, and have not used them since. They are OK for most conditions, but the moment you encounter mud mixed with granular sand, the pads start to fizzle at an alarming rate. I had to screw out the barrel adjusters on the levers every 10 minutes, and readjust the cable every 30 minutes! The Kool-stops, on the other hand, are much, much better. They're also the OEM for Avid brake pads.

Which brings us to your next question. The Avid Mechanical disks are supposed to be really good. This would be the mechanical disks to get. I doubt very much if they're not as good as V-brakes; if anything, they'll provide much more stopping power. They also have an added advantage over hydraulic systems: you can adjust when you want the pads to engage the rotor. Of all the other hydraulic systems, only Avid's Juicy 7 wll allow you to do this. Why is this important? Some riders like to adjust their brake levers so that full braking power comes on only as the levers are about to bottom out on the grips. This gives more modulation, and a higher leverage (ie a lower force on the brake levers will result in a higher force at the pads). It also reduces the likelihood of fatigue and finger cramps on long downhill descents (because it takes less energy to bunch your fingers in a fist than it does to keep the fingers extended while pulling on the levers). Btw the Juicy 7 is not yet available in Malaysia, and will likely be expensive when it does arrive.

Finally, perhaps an answer to the question that's implicit in the last question you asked: Are disks better than V-brakes? The answer: it depends on you. I've been using V-brakes, Kool-stop pads on ceramic rims, and found them to be more than adequate for my type of riding. I've used XT disks on a friend's bike, and found that I disliked the fact that the lever throw was very short, and that almost all the power came on almost at once. I'll probably need 4 or 5 rides to get used to the reduced modulation, an investment of time that I won't make because:

  • V-brakes are good enough for the feeble type of cross-country riding that I do;
  • V-brakes are lighter;
  • V-brakes are less complex, thus easier to set up and maintain (no annoying rotor rub);
  • V-brakes are cheaper.

    On the other hand, if you are a hucker of 6-foot drops, or if even Koolstop pads don't last longer than 2 weeks on the Kemensah trails that you ride, then maybe disks are for you.

    Hope this helps,

    -- Joe (, May 28, 2003.

  • Thanks alot joe, thats alot of info for me to consider. i also remembering you telling me or was it my bros about the kool-stop brake pads. i should try them out, don't mind me asking where you could get them? I totally agree with you that shimano pads are not a good brake pad for muddy conditions. they are not cheap and wear out in just 1 ride. anyway, i still need more info on the mechanical disc from disc users, no disrespect to you joe. thanks alot again.

    -- Alex C. Tseung (, May 29, 2003.

    Boon Foo sells the Kool-stop pads. They come in several different flavours. I think the salmon-pink ones are for severe conditions. You can give him a call on 7805-1989.

    -- Joe (, June 01, 2003.

    Alex if you are thinking of mechanical disc brakes, I strongly recommend the Avid CPS. My stoker and I collectively weigh about 150kg and we have one of these puppies on our tandem which we occasionally take off road. In terms of modulation, they sit in between the hydro Hayes and the 03 xtr discs on my other bikes. In terms of pure stopping power, they are about on par with the two hydro systems although still not as powerful as the Magura hs-33 rim brakes which they replaced. The Maguras can lock the wheels of a fully loaded tandem. I can't tell you how long the pads will last because the tandem goes off road maybe twice a month at most. But if it's any help the xtr disc pads lasted me 6 months of twice a week riding. They cost about RM80 per brake. I suspect the Avid pads are marginally cheaper. Go for discs if you ride in mucky conditions because foul weather has no bearing on their performance. Some discs squeal more than others; Hayes: almost every time and for no reason, Avid: only when wet and disappears after a few depression of the lever; and xtr: never does. Brake fade is worst on the Hayes but pulsing helps. The Avids and xtr are almost fade free. So far all the brakes have been fuss free; requiring almost no maintenance from the time of installation. The mechanicals are obviously easier to tinker with including making pad adjustments. But even bleeding the hydros isn't really rocket science.

    -- amir (, June 04, 2003.

    wow , i must try tandem-ing offroad one day . how isit to control the bike?

    -- Jeff (, June 05, 2003.

    Not as tough as most people would imagine. Obviously tight singletracks are a bit more difficult to manouvre thru on the long wheelbased bike but we managed to ride quite a few sections of Kiara, certainly more than 70% of it. Surprisingly we didn't have to walk up Twin Peaks. But I was very careful on steep descents primarily because I don't want to spook my permanent stoker, without whom there'd be no tandeming for me. Otherwise estate trails such as FRIM, RRI and most hash trails are not only very do-able but also very enjoyable on a tandem. We find that the most important upgrade if you decide to venture off road is to get a hefty fork. We replaced our old Psylos with a pair of Marzocchi DJ1 20mm thru axle fork and the front end isn't so skitterish anymore. I wish I had the dough to blow on a double crown fork though.

    -- amir (, June 05, 2003.

    And i guess disc brakes are a must too on a tandem. definately a must try for the future. 1 thing i can't figure out on tendam is do you struggle more on climbs because of 2 people meaning double the weight or you get it easier because 2 pairs of legs meaning double the power? Amir, mind if i ask where you got the avid mech disc and how much it cost? and what do you think bout the deore mech disc?

    -- Alex C. Tseung (, June 05, 2003.

    I think the Avids are in the region of RM300 per brake which comes with the regular 160mm rotor. You pay a bit more for 205mm rotor. I am not familiar either with the price or the performance of the Deore mech disc brakes. But I have read rave reviews on the 2003 Deore hydraulic brakes though. Unless your bike comes equipped with disc ready hubs, set aside some money for those as well.

    -- amir faezal (, June 05, 2003.

    Alex, on the tandem and weight question; we climb slower than single bikes despite the extra leg power. On slicks we can be slightly faster on the flats (than our speed on our own singles) and insanely fast on descends. Our highest speed was 88km/h coasting down a 10% into Baling during last year's interstate. Coming down Genting we clocked 85km/h before I got scared. But we fully deserved the descend because we took 4 hrs to get to the top while everyone else took just 2.

    -- amir (, June 05, 2003.

    Thanks alot people. i believe i have enough info on the disc brakes. i will consider all aspect of it vs. the v-brakes. if you guys still want to discuss about it please go ahead. Amir, all the best with the tendam.

    -- Alex C. Tseung (, June 08, 2003.

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